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From Bland to Grand: Canterbury’s Best Fruit Trees to Plant in Winter

NZ Arborist’s Guide: Is your backyard a blank canvas, yearning for a touch of life and flavour? Do you dream of strolling through your own orchard, plucking juicy fruit straight from the branch? Winter, believe it or not, is the perfect time to plant your path to paradise! Unlike summer vegetables that struggle in the cool soil, many fruit trees thrive when planted during Canterbury’s crisp winter months. Get ready to transform your ordinary garden into a cornucopia of delicious bounty!

Why Plant in Winter?

Canterbury’s mild winters offer a hidden advantage for gardeners. Planting bare-rooted fruit trees (trees with no soil around the roots) during this dormant period allows the root system to establish itself before the spring growth spurt. The cooler temperatures also minimise stress on the young tree, giving it a head start come spring.

Choosing the Perfect Fruit Tree for Canterbury

Canterbury’s diverse microclimates offer a range of planting possibilities. Before selecting your fruit tree superstars, consider these factors:

  • Sunlight: Most fruit trees require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Soil Drainage: Fruit trees detest soggy feet. Ensure your chosen spot has well-drained soil. Raised garden beds are a great option if drainage is a concern.
  • Space: Consider the mature size of the tree and choose a spot that allows for proper growth without crowding other plants or structures.
  • Pollination: Some fruit trees require a pollinator of a compatible variety to produce fruit. Research self-pollinating varieties or plant two trees of compatible varieties for a bountiful harvest.

Canterbury’s Winter Fruit Tree Hall of Fame

Now, let’s delve into the delectable world of Canterbury’s winter-friendly fruit trees!

  • Apples: A classic for a reason! Canterbury boasts a long history of successful apple growing. Choose from a range of varieties like the crisp and tangy Granny Smith, the juicy Braeburn, or the ever-popular Royal Gala.
  • Pears: ELEGANT and EASYGOING, pear trees grace any garden with their delicate blossoms and delectable fruit. Doyenne du Comice offers a buttery-smooth texture, while Beurre Bosc provides a sweet and slightly nutty flavour. For a true Canterbury favourite, try the Louise Bonne de Jersey, renowned for its juicy sweetness.
  • Feijoas: This iconic New Zealand fruit thrives in Canterbury’s cool winters and mild summers. Feijoas are delightfully low-maintenance and reward you with a burst of tropical flavour in late summer/autumn.
  • Quinces: Often overshadowed by their apple and pear cousins, quinces deserve a place in your winter planting plans. These fragrant fruits are perfect for jellies, jams, and membrillo (a delicious cheese accompaniment).
  • Plums: From the sweet and juicy Black Doris to the vibrant Japanese varieties, plums add a touch of colour and delectable flavour to your garden. Just be aware that some plum varieties can be susceptible to frosts, so choose a sheltered spot for planting.

Planting and Beyond: Tips for Success

Planting your winter fruit tree is just the beginning! Here are some helpful pointers for nurturing your future harvest:

  • Dig a generous hole: The planting hole should be 2-3 times wider than the root ball and just as deep.
  • Amend the soil: Mix compost or aged manure with the backfill soil to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth.
  • Stake your tree (optional): For young trees, a stake can provide support during establishment, particularly in windy areas.
  • Water regularly: Especially during the first year, consistent watering is crucial for your tree’s root development.
  • Winter protection (optional): For frost-sensitive varieties, a protective covering like hessian cloth can be used during particularly cold spells.
  • Prune for health and shape: Once your tree is established, proper pruning encourages healthy growth and fruit production. Consult a qualified arborist for specific pruning advice.

ProArb Canterbury: Your Partner in Fruit Tree Success

Planting fruit trees is an investment in your future enjoyment. With proper planning and care, your winter-planted trees will reward you with years of delicious harvests. At Pro Arb Canterbury, our certified arborists are passionate about helping you cultivate a thriving garden. We can offer expert advice on choosing the right fruit trees for your specific location, planting techniques, and ongoing care.

Contact us today and let’s turn your backyard from bland to grand, one delicious fruit tree at a time!


Planting Basics

  1. When exactly is the winter planting season in Canterbury? Winter planting in Canterbury typically falls between late June and early August.
  2. Should I buy bare-rooted or potted fruit trees for winter planting? Bare-rooted trees are generally more cost-effective and ideal for winter planting. They establish their root system more readily in cooler soil.
  3. Do I need any special tools for planting my fruit tree? A good shovel, garden fork, and watering can are essential. Pruning shears may be helpful depending on the tree’s initial shape.
  4. How far apart should I plant my fruit trees? Spacing requirements vary depending on the mature size of the tree. Research the specific variety you choose, but generally, allow 4-6 metres between trees.

Choosing the Right Tree

  1. My yard doesn’t get a lot of sun. Are there any fruit trees that will still do well? Some apple varieties like Granny Smith tolerate partial shade, but most fruit trees require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal fruit production.
  2. What if my soil is quite clay-heavy? Clay drainage can be improved by amending the planting hole with compost or coarse sand. Raised garden beds are another option for ensuring good drainage.
  3. Can I plant a dwarf fruit tree to save space? Absolutely! Dwarf fruit trees are a great option for smaller gardens. They mature at a smaller size but still produce delicious fruit.
  4. I’m not sure if I have a pollinator in the area. How can I find out? Self-pollinating varieties are available for many fruits, but consult your local nursery or Pro Arb Canterbury for advice on compatible pollinator varieties for your chosen fruit tree.

Caring for Your Fruit Tree

  1. How often should I water my newly planted fruit tree? Water deeply and regularly, especially during the first year. Aim for the soil to be consistently moist but not soggy.
  2. What kind of fertiliser should I use for my fruit tree? A balanced slow-release fertiliser applied in spring and early summer can be beneficial. Consult a nursery or arborist for specific recommendations based on your soil type.
  3. Do I need to spray my fruit tree for pests and diseases? Organic methods like neem oil or insectary plants can help deter pests. It’s best to consult a qualified arborist for advice on pest or disease management specific to your tree variety and local conditions.
  4. When should I start pruning my fruit tree? For most young trees, minimal pruning is needed in the first few years. Once established, consult a qualified arborist for proper pruning techniques to encourage healthy growth and fruit production.

Harvesting and Beyond

  1. How long will it take for my fruit tree to bear fruit? The time to fruiting varies depending on the variety. Dwarf trees often bear fruit sooner (2-3 years) than standard-sized trees (4-6 years).
  2. What should I do with all the fruit I harvest? Enjoy the bounty! You can eat fresh fruit, make jams and jellies, bake delicious pies, or share with friends and family.
  3. How long will my fruit tree live? With proper care, some fruit trees can live for decades, even centuries!


  1. My fruit tree leaves look wilted. What could be wrong? Underwatering is a common culprit. Ensure the soil is moist but not soggy. Other factors could be pests, diseases, or root damage.
  2. There are no flowers or fruit on my tree. What’s happening? Lack of sunlight, incorrect pollination, nutrient deficiencies, or improper pruning could be reasons for no fruit production. Consult a qualified arborist for specific advice.
  3. My fruit tree has small or misshapen fruit. Is there anything I can do? Thinning excess fruit can improve the size and quality of remaining fruit. Lack of pollination or nutrients could also be factors.

Additional Resources

  1. Are there any resources available online for learning more about fruit tree care? Yes! Many government horticulture websites and university extension services offer excellent resources on fruit tree varieties, planting, and care.
  2. How can I get in touch with ProArb Canterbury for expert advice on fruit trees? You can visit our website or contact us at proarbcanterbury.kiwi